I have never been a scout or a NFL General Manager, but I am willing to watch a ton of football. By watching about 200 snaps of each prospect, we can really get a feel for a player and then know what we are talking about a bit better. It is no exact science, but the NFL hasn't quite figured out drafting either, so we are going to do the best we can.
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Marcus Peters, CB, Washington - 6'0, 198 - RS Junior
Speaking of complicated cases in the 2015 NFL Draft, here is one that is off the charts due to the list of red flags on his biography. In fact, if you would like to dive into the off-field and side-line issues that have been around Peters, perhaps you can catch up with this interesting story from last month in the USA Today.
However, Peters is a very talented corner and likely not the first or the last to emerge from this process as a guy who may have an issue or two to sort through as he matures into being a professional athlete. Personality studies are often quite misleading and inaccurate when looking from afar, and frankly, when I break these guys down I want to be upfront and admit that hearsay is no way to do that. Teams conduct many face to face interviews and personal investigations to see if a guy is worthy of being handed millions to represent the franchise. We are not doing that here by any stretch. I will point out that there have been issues and move on to his tape, because the football he plays speaks for itself. To study Peters, I chose the Oregon, Hawaii, and Stanford games from 2014 and like Ifo Ekpre-Olomu yesterday, I also grabbed his 2013 battle with Brandin Cooks at Oregon State.
What I liked: Peters is a very big corner who looks like he is reasonably comfortable in man coverage although if you watch Washington much, you will notice that they play a ton of zones so he is often off-and-soft at the snap. Above, he is running hip to hip with Arizona State's prospect Jaelen Strong, but please note that this is the exception, not the rule for his resume. His best attribute is absolutely his ball skills. He plays the ball often like a receiver and comes down with the ball plenty. He had 11 interceptions in 34 college games, which is a very high rate. He is big, plays confident, and again runs routes and sees the ball like a wide receiver. He also can contribute in special teams and will be that edge guy who blocks kicks on field goals because of his length/quicks combo. He runs pretty well and has a highlight tape that will make the eyes bug out of your head.
What I did not like: Unfortunately, there was a lot here that I didn't care for. He is just not very interested in going up to help in run support much or in attacking the multiple bubble screens or quick outs that we see in the game these days. I need my corner to be a physical man on the flank - especially at that size - who wants to mix it up and take a toll on those who dare mess with him underneath. I just don't see that consistently as you could accuse him of too many "business decisions" as a corner that may count Deion Sanders as an inspiration. Sanders is one of the all-time greats, but there were times where "team defense" never seemed like a great priority, and Peters is the same way. Oddly, you don't always see that from "zone" corners, but there are many who think he is an ideal "press man" prospect. He also looks like he is an outside guy who doesn't have the quicks underneath to stay with the smaller slot receivers, so if you want a bigger corner who will plays outside and make breaks on the ball, I think he will be be fine and likely a 1st rounder. But, if you want corners who think they are bigger than they really are and love to dive-bomb a play underneath, Peters is not your guy.
Summary: Overall, I am sure many will disagree with my tepid enthusiasm on Peters, relative to what I hear out there on the streets. But, I have always preferred the corners who help set the tone of the defense with physicality and attitude and were models of consistency and often team leaders. Peters will not be that (at least, at first) but he may have the best ball skills in this draft and will make some plays that will lead Sportscenter. This might come down to how teams see the game and what flavor of ice cream they enjoy. Honestly, if he enjoyed run support or tackling more, I would say he is the type of scheme and size corner that Dallas might target. If he is available at #27, I am sure they will be tempted because he does possess all of the tools, but I just don't think he has the mentality that I prefer at the position. It will be interesting to see his career develop.